It is very difficult to always try to be someone that you are not. People have a way of projecting their expectations on you; this can lead to a desire to be someone that you aren’t in order to please others. This is the most common and most powerful way that you become inclined to become someone that you are not. It’s an easy rut to get into, and there are 2 major causes for this:
1) Parents are the biggest unintentional culprits here. Parents after all are the ones that instantly become your role models when you are born. They are your first teachers, and for the most formative years in your life they are the ones that tell you all about life and what is expected of you. This is great power and can often times lead to a type of life projection.
Parents can sometimes project on to their children ideas based on their failed goals. This is usually a well meaning desire from a parent to try and have the child accomplish something that the parent wasn’t able to do. Perhaps the parent dreamed of becoming a football star and could not so this parent projects this desire on the child and then does everything in his power to push the child in that direction.
Here you are then trying to please your parent(s). You think that you are supposed to be something that you are not because your parents told you so. Most people that find themselves in this situation can’t bear to confront their parents even though their emotional distress over being someone that they don’t want to be is tremendous. Sometimes these parents are also quite strong of character and force a child of weaker character to follow their desires.
In order to stop this cycle of parental suffocation, you have to get clear about who you are. You must try to find time for yourself so that you can begin to discover yourself and your desires. Unfortunately this is very difficult for a younger person, even an older person, to do this since parents tend to dominate so much of the person’s life. But when you can, you must take the time to explore your being and your desires so that you discover what it is that you wish to do now and in the future.
The thing that you must do is have the courage to confront your parents also. This is usually very difficult and it is more difficult the younger that you are. But you must have the courage to do this so that you can challenge those parental opinions that have so dominated your life and begin to assert your personal self, free of their opinion.
2) The second major cause of someone not being themselves is influence from peers. This is what is usually referred to as “peer pressure”. And while it might sound funny, it can actually be a very powerful controller of personality.
The crowd has the power of great control over the individual, this is very obvious to anyone that has ever been part of a large movement of people. If you then add credibility and respect to that mass of others, you have an incredibly powerful motivator. We tend to listen to those that we respect or care about. If they tell us that this is this and that we should do that, then we tend to obey. And it is not just friends and close acquaintances that fall into this group of motivators, the media and group trends are also telling you what to do; If they say that being skinny and wearing hair gel is cool then that is what most people will do.
In order to find your true self, you must again make sure that you find enough time to spend all to yourself. This means that you must make time away from friends and acquaintances, away from the parties and the social events. You must make time so that you can be alone to think and contemplate your own life and your own path.
You must also find time to distance yourself from the media. This can be difficult in this time of internet, tv, radio, and all sorts of mass communication. It doesn’t mean that you have to go cold turkey and become a social hermit. What it means is that you have to balance your time so that you can spend some conscious time away from all of the social circus out there. A long walk or a quiet time by yourself on the couch is great. No music though, just you and your thoughts. This way you can begin to contemplate your ideas and desires, and begin to question anything that does not seem to be good to you.
Once you discover what you want and who you are, you have to have the courage to do your own thing. This can be a truly scary process, we are all conditioned to follow the tribe and to take our assigned role in society. We all fear loneliness, ostracism, and the slander of others. But you must have the courage to go your own way and to follow your own path.
If you can do this, you will see that life will become far more exciting. We are all in one way or another trying to be someone that we are not. This is caused by our beliefs which are almost always the expectations of others. Following your own way is a scary thing but it is also infinitely rewarding. Discover who you are and have the courage to follow your own path. To truly be an individual means that you have to stop being someone that others believe you should be, and to start being truly yourself.